Bridges have, throughout history, been focal points of a town, city or region's development. The collection of bridges covered here includes everything from the historic bridges of small towns and cities in Europe, to the impressive new bridges of modernising Asian cities.
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The Victoria Falls Bridge is located along the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, spanning the Zambezi River. It connects the two cities/towns of Livingstone, Zambia, and Victoria Falls. It's almost 200 metres long with a span of over 150 metres and with its height of 128 metres also is a popular place for bungee jumping. Cecil Rhodes initially was the masterpiece behind the bridge, as it would be part of a desired railroad between Cairo and Cape Town. The bridge was designed by George Anthony Hobson and construction eventually started in 1904, after which it took just 14 months for it to be officially opened by George Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, on 12 September 1905. Although trains technically can still cross, there are no official passenger connections and most people either cross by car or on foot.
The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, also known as the Pearl Bridge, is the longest suspension bridge (measured by the length of the center span of 1,991 metres) in the world. It spans the Akashi Strait connecting Kobe and Iwaya on Awayi Island. The bridge took almost 12 years to build. Construction began in May 1986, and the bridge was opened to traffic on 5 April 1998. The central span would have had a span of 1,990 metres, if the Kobe earthquake in 1995 had not moved the columns one metre further apart. As only the columns were placed by that time, the span was wided with one extra metre.
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The Garden Bridge is a unique bridge with a rich history. Known in China as the Waibaidu Bridge, it is in fact the 4th in a series of bridges located in the same spot on Suzhou Creek in the heart of Shanghai. The first of these was constructed in 1856; the current bridge was completed in 1907.
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Rainbow Bridge is a modern bridge echoing Tokyo's impressive skyline. The bridge has two decks: the upper deck has an expressway, while the lower deck carries a train line and another road. There are also two separate pedestrian walkways on the north and south sides of the bridge.
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The Bridge over the River Kwai is famous for no other reason than the novel and film that popularised it in the 1950s. The bridge actually crosses the Mae Khlung, not the River Kwai, but after the book and film started producing an inflow of tourists, the Thais renamed part of the river to Kwae Yai, which means Big Kwai. The bridge has remained more or less unchanged since it was first built by prisoners of war during World War II.
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Chapel Bridge, or Kapellbrücke, is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe. It is a remarkable historic landmark in the Swiss town of Lucerne, and is one of the country's main tourist attractions. Connected to it is the Wasserturm (Water Tower), which has been used as a prison, torture chamber, watchtower and treasury. The bridge is covered. Inside, it features paintings by 120 triangular paintings by Kaspar Meglinger from the 17th century, depicting events from local history. After a fire in 1993, much of the bridge had to be reconstructed.
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It took half a century to build Charles Bridge (named after King Charles IV, who laid the bridge's first stone in 1357), but Prague needed it: after the Judith Bride was destroyed in 1342, the city had no bridge connecting the eastern and western shores of the temperamental Vltava River. The Charles Bridge became an important factor in the development of Prague, as the city became a strategic point between east and west. Now, the bridge is a pedestrian-only area and a hub of activity, featuring local Czech musicians, artists and street vendors.
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The Galata Bridge in the European part of Istanbul spans the Golden Horn at the entrance of the waterway, just west of the famous Bosphorus. The current bridge is already the 5th bridge at this location. There had been plans since the early 16th century, but the first one opened only in 1845. Until 1930, there was a toll fee to cross the bridge. The longest span of the bridge is 80 metres and it's 42 metres wide. There are walkways, roads and recently even a tramway across the bridge, making the bridge one of just a few moveable bridges in the world with electrified rail.
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The Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) is one of the best known features of Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. The bridge spans the Amstel River in the centre of the city and connects the banks of the river at the Kerkstraat (Church Street), between Keizersgracht (Emperors' Canal) and the Prinsengracht (Princes' Canal). The central part of the bridge is the most spectactular one and is a so-called bascule bridge and maid out of wooden which was painted white later on. Although there had been bridges across the river here since the late 17th century, the current one was build in 1934 and since then has been opening automatically instead of by hand. Since 2003, the bridge can only be passed by pedestrians and cyclists. Tour boats can pass underneath the bridge without closing the bridge for other traffic. At night, the 1,200 light bulbs or so are usually turned on for a spectactular view as well. The bridge has been featured in many (Dutch) movies, including the 1971 James Bond production Diamonds Are Forever.
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The Millau Viaduct is part of the A75-A71 autoroute from Paris to the south and Montpellier. The viaduct was designed by Michel Virlogeux and Norman Foster. It is the tallest land based vehicular bridge in the world, with one mast's (P2) summit at 343 metres (1,125 feet), and a road deck at 270 metres. A record that is likely to stand only for a few years, as it will be surpassed by the Chenad Bridge in India, when it finally opens in 2015.
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On November 9, 1993, with the nations of the former Yugoslavia involved in the Bosnian War, Croatian forces destroyed Mostar Bridge (locally known as Stari Most). Built in the middle of the 16th century by an Ottoman architect, the bridge crossed the River Neretva. Between 1999 and 2004, the Mostar Bridge was rebuilt, an important project funded by various international governments, including that of Croatia. In 2005, UNESCO named the bridge on its World Heritage List, along with the surrounding neighbourhoods.
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The Oresund Bridge is Europe's longest combined road and rail bridge. It stretches from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Malmö, Sweden and carries the Oresund Railway Line and European route E20. There is a toll charge for vehicles to get across (295 DKK/360 SEK/€40 for a standard car, price level 2011).
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Touted the most ornate and extravagant bridge in Paris, Pont Alexandre III is lavished with Art Nouveau decorations of lamps, cherubs, nymphs and winged horses at either end of the bridge. Named after Tsar Alexander III, the bridge was built between 1896 and 1900, opened just in time for Universal Exhibition 1900. It was also built under strict instruction to prevent obscuring of the views of both the Champs-Élysées and the Invalides. On each end of the bridge are large gilded statues on 17-metre granite socles, with Fames restraining Pegasus atop of each: on the right bank, the Renommée des Sciences ("Fame of the Sciences") and the Renommée des Arts ("Fame of the Arts") both by Emmanuel Frémiet; on the Left Bank, the Renommée du Commerce ("Fame of Commerce") by Pierre Granet and the Renommée de l'Industrie ("Fame of Industry") by Clément Steiner.
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The Pont du Gard was built to allow the aqueduct of Nîmes (which is almost 50 kilometres long) to cross River Gard. Standing at 49 metres, the bridge was built on three levels: the lower level at 142 metres in length and consists on 6 arches, the middle level at 242 metres in length and spans across 11 arches, and the higher level at the longest of 275 metres while supported by 35 arches. In 1985, the Pont du Gard was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.
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The Dom Luís Bridge, or Ponte Dom Luís I as it's officially called, is a bridge spanning the Douro River in the northern Portugese city of Porto. Although many will see that it has characteristics of the Eiffel Tower in its construction, it is a design by engineer Teófilo Seyrig, a former partner of Gustave Eiffel. The bridge connects the old centre of Porto with the relatively new part of the city at Vila Nova de Gaia on the southern side of the Douro River. Both cars (lower deck) and trams (upper deck), as well as pedestrians on both decks, can cross the bridge. It has been a landmark in Porto for almost 125 years!
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The Ponte di Rialto (or Rialto Bridge) is the oldest of three bridges spanning Venice's Grand Canal. It was built as a replacement for a wooden bridge which had stood in its spot, but collapsed several times. The bridge's three stepped walkways are separated by two rows of small touristy shops. Originally critics disregarded the bridge as ugly and top-heavy. It has now become a Venetian icon and, alongside St. Mark's square, one of the city's most popular attractions.
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The Ponte Vecchio is one of the primary sights in Florence. The bridge is walled on both sides with shops, which were popular in medieval times. Originally butchers occupied these shops, but due to the animal waste degrading the water they were kicked out in 1593 and gold merchants moved in. To this day, there are several high end jewelry shops located on the Ponte Vecchio. No one knows why, but the Nazis did not destroy the Ponte Vecchio in World War II, even though they did destroy all the other bridges in Florence. Instead the Nazis blew up everything around the bridge so it could not be crossed.
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Officially named Østbroen (East Bridge), the Storebæltsbroen (Great Belt Bridge) that has the world's third longest span has enabled rapid travel over the Great Belt strait, reducing traditional ferry travel of an hour to just ten minutes by motorised vehicles. Together with Øresund Bridge, it is now possible to drive between mainland Europe and Scandinavia via Denmark, greatly reducing the distance of an alternative land route via Finland. There is a toll charge when crossing the bridge (€30 for a standard car).
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The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is the symbolic and physical link between Buda and Pest and was in fact the first permanent connection between the two sides of Budapest. The bridge takes its name from István Széchenyi, who was a major supporter of the construction. When it was first built, it was remarkable for its majestic beauty - and it also played an important role in the development of Hungary's economy. Today, the bridge carries two lanes of traffic and remains an iconic landmark in the Hungarian capital.
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The Teufelsbrücke (the Devil’s Bridge) is a bridge over the Reuss River in the Swiss mountains. The bridge is included in the much travelled Gotthardpass. The bridge that is in use now is actually the third bridge. The second bridge still spans the river and is located very near to the new bridge. What makes the bridge (or bridges) well known, is not the length, or the technical features, but the myth that is attached to the wooden bridge that was built in 1230. According to the myth the bridge was built by the devil himself. He made the deal that in trade for building the bridge, he would receive the first soul to pass the bridge. When the bridge was finished the villagers, sent a goat over the bridge and thereby saving their own souls. Outraged the devil tried to smash the bridge he just built. He picked up a large stone (the Teufelsstein, the devil's stone). But on his way to the ridge he came across an old deeply religious woman carrying a cross. Scared of the cross, he left the stone, and fled.
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Named after nearby London Tower, the Tower Bridge is a popular London landmark stretching across the River Thames. The bridge's design is notable for its combination of a central bascule bridge (to allow for river traffic) with suspension bridges on either side. It has a distinctive Victorian Gothic style that is instantly recognisable and was intended to echo the London Tower.
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The Khaju Bridge is a bridge in the town of Esfahan in Iran. It was built in the 17th century by Shah Abbas II, who built it on the foundations of an older bridge. The bridge has 23 arches that cross the Zayandeh River linking the Khaju quarter on the north bank with the Zoroastrian quarter on the southbank. Khaju Bridge is one of the bridges that regulate the water flow in the river as there are sluice gates under the archways. When the sluice gates are closed, the water level behind the bridge is raised to facilitate the irrigation along the river. The road of the bridge is 7.5 metres wide, made of bricks and stones with 21 larger and 26 smaller inlet and outlet channels.
The Baluarte Bridge, officially called the Baluarte Bicentennial Bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the Baluarte River on the border of the Sinaloa and Durango states in the central north of Mexico. It is the highest cable-stayed bridge in the world at and the second highest overall, at 403 metres. It carries motor vehicles along the highway between Durango and Mazatlan at the Pacific coastline.
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A New York icon, the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the US's oldest suspension bridges, connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn across the East River. Granite gothic towers stand at each end of the bridge. Due to its special significance, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Visitors can cross the bridge on a wide pedestrian walkway and enjoy good views of East River, the harbour and downtown Manhattan.
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The Confederation Bridge spanning the ocean between the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water. It is a part of the Trans-Canada highway which spans all the Canadian provinces. It completes a fixed link between the rest of Canada to the province of Prince Edward Island.
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The Golden Gate Bridge is a San Franciscan icon. It crosses over the Golden Gate, a 400-metre stretch of water separating the San Francisco Peninsula from Marin County. Built between 1933 and 1937 for $25.7 million, it was the world's longest suspension bridge until 1957. It is part of US Highway 101 and State Route 1, serving an average of 100,000 vehicles every day.
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The Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is the second highest bridge in the US, towering 270 metres over the Colorado River. It sits directly adjacent to the Hoover Dam. It has been built to divert traffic from crossing over the dam, a road which has proven too dangerous for modern traffic levels. Pedestrians are able to park and walk over the bridge for spectacular views of Hoover Dam.
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The Navajo Bridge near Lee's Ferry in Arizona is a bridge that crosses the Colorado River and Marble Canyon. It's the only one crossing the river and canyon in nearly 600 miles (960 kilometres). It is part of US Route 89A and in northbound direction the road takes you towards Utah and the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Work on the first bridge was started in 1927 and after completion two years later it did the job for nearly 70 years before another bridge was completed in the mid 1990s because of the increase of traffic. The first bridge is now only accessible for pedestrians.
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The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, 10 miles (16 kilometres) northwest of Taos, New Mexico, is a bridge that crosses the Rio Grande Gorge along US Route 64. It is the fifth highest bridge, and the second highest cantilever truss bridge, in the United States. The bridge has appeared in numerous films. Pedestrian walkways along both sides of the bridge allow visitors to walk across and enjoy the breathtaking view.
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The Seven Mile Bridge is a famous bridge in Monroe County, Florida Keys, United States. It connects Knight's Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys. Among the longest bridges in existence when it was built, it is one of the many bridges on US 1 in the Keys, where the road is called the Overseas Highway. There are two bridges in this location. The older bridge, originally known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge, was constructed from 1909-1912 under the direction of Henry Flagler as part of the Overseas Railroad. The current road bridge was constructed from 1978 to 1982. The vast majority of the original bridge still exists, used as fishing piers and access to Pigeon Key, but the swing span over the Moser Channel of the Intracoastal Waterway has been removed.
The total length of the new bridge is actually 6.79 miles, and is shorter than the original. Each April the bridge is closed for approximately 2.5 hours on a Saturday and a "fun run," known as the Seven Mile Bridge Run.
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Alongside the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the city's most famous structures. It is the world's widest long-span bridge, the highest steel arch bridge and the 4th-longest spanning-arch bridge. It is heavily used by local residents, as trains, cars, pedestrians and cyclists all use it. And it is also the main place for the famous Newyears fireworks.
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Located between Rio de Janeiro and Niterói in Brazil, the Rio-Niterói Bridge, officially called the President Costa e Silva Bridge, is the longest prestressed concrete bridge in the southern hemisphere, and the sixth longest in the world. The total length of the bridge is 13,290 metres, of which 8,836 metres is over water. Until 1985, it even was the second longest bridge in the world. Nearly 150,000 vehicles cross the bridge, part of federal highway BR-101, everyday, paying a toll of R$4 one-way.
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